The making of "Sex, Drugs & Rock 'N' Roll"
The third single from the concept album project The History of Heavy Metal was released in April and this song is our tribute to glam (or hair) metal from the mid 80's. The pandemic caused some challenges for the recordings of the song but it was still a lot of much fun writing and recording!
(Bernt Jansen, Vidar Ingvaldsen, Torfinn Sirnes and Johannes Støle in Athletic Sound after the session. Photo by engineer Dag Erik Johansen.)
"Sex, Drugs & Rock 'N' Roll" song was written fairly quickly but it was revised many times along the way. For the most part it was made shorter. Hey! "Don't bore us / get to the chours!" When writing the song we looked for all the stereotype hair metal elements - like starting the song with the chorus riff, adding a lot harmonies, keyboards, modulations (both up and down!), a melodic guitar solo, a sing-a-long arena break down etc.
It was a bit challenging to decide how heavy it was going to sound. Glam metal streches from heavy Mötley Crüe to popish Bon Jovi. We tried to go for a middle thing. You can hear the distorted guitars but the melodies still prevail. The lyrics was pretty easy though. The title says it all! Hair metal was THE party subgenre of metal and we loved ending the chorus with "Tonight! We're gonna be all right!"
The basic tracks for the song was recorded in November at Athletic Sound with engineer Dag Erik Johansen. Vidar Ingvaldsen and guest player Bernt Jansen (Artch, Wig Wam, Jorn) recorded the drums and bass live. It went down pretty quickly and easy in one take after a few rounds of rehearsal. They are just great guys and great musicians! It was also very cool to have the tracks recorded to old school analoge tapes just like in the old days
Covid-19 caused some challenges as we were scheduled to return to a recording studio in mid March. Just as many other countries in Europe the society in Norway more or less closed down because of the pandemic. Since we were on a tight schedule to get the song released in April we therefore went into our own home studios to record all the overdubs.
The rhythm guitars were played by me and tracked by Stein Arild Grønås at his home studio. He has got such a great selection of guitars and amps! We went for a Gibson Les Paul and a Ibanez RG for the 80's vibe and the amp was a Marshall 1987x Plexi. It was pretty quickly done and accompanied by a few cold beers for the right vibe!
My guitar solo was tracked in quarantine at home with a Les Paul. This was actually the first digital guitar recording of the project as I used a Line-6 Pod 2.0. (Which is pretty retro but not THAT retro!) The ethos of this project is to record everything as they did back then but we really had no choice but to cheat a little on this one.
For the same reason vocalist Johannes Støle sang both his lead and backing vocals in his home studio while Mads Pedersen also did his backing tracks at his own studio. We really went for a huge multi-layered backing vocals sound. The trick of recording a lot of backing tracks was taken from "Mutt" Lange and his production of Def Leppard's "Hysteria". Together Johannes, Mads Pedersen and myself laid down 196 tracks of backing vocals for the song!
The song was sent to famous producer Beau Hill (Ratt, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister - the list goes on and on!) for mixdown and he did a tremendous job of finding the right sound. No revisions necessary! Right in the sweetstpot. Our regular mastering Christian Obermayer engineer just did a few final adjustments at his studio Strype Audio.
Bang! There you go! "Sex, Drugs & Rock 'N' Roll"! Check out the lyric video made by the talented and dedicated Razvan Alexandru in Absynte Moon Films below.